Stolen Domain Name Recovery

A domain name may go missing for many reasons. The owner of the domain does not have control over it. The domain name could have been stolen or expired. Or, an employee or former employee accessed the domain name registrar account and changed the ownership details. No matter what reason a domain name is lost or taken from its owner, it’s important that the owner seeks domain name recovery services. Let’s first look at domain name theft. This will help us determine if the domain name was stolen. The current status of the domain will determine what course of action we should take to recover the domain.

Domain Name Theft: Has someone stolen your domain name?

What is Domain Theft?

Domain names, which are digital assets, can be taken from their owners. Domain theft is also known as domain theft. This refers to the act of taking ownership of domain names from their rightful owners without permission. Domain theft is when an individual or organization changes the contact information in the WHOIS record for a domain name that is not expired without the permission of the current owner (registrant).

Sometimes domain name theft can be confused with domain name loss due to administrative or clerical errors. Domain names are lost because they were not renewed or in compliance with the Terms of Service. It could also be confused with the failure of the current registrant to renew the domain name and the registration by another person or organization. Sometimes, the domain name may be purchased by a new legal owner at an auction. This will make the previous owner unaware of it.

Why Thieves Steal Domain Names

Why do domain names get stolen? It is very simple. Domain names are valuable and have been sold for thousands, hundreds, or even millions of dollars. Domain names are often stolen by thieves who can resell them to unsuspecting people or organizations at a substantial discount to their fair value. Time is often of the essence. Most of the time, domain names are stolen by thieves who want to quickly sell them. Sometimes domains are stolen for monetary gain, but also for outright sabotage. The unauthorized transfer of domain names to another registrant could cause domain lockups for weeks or even months, if the new owner forces a legal proceeding to recover the domain.

ICANN whois lookup example
Example of the WHOIS lookup of a domain name. This is only part of the WHOIS record, and the domain name’s WHOIS record will also show additional information, including the owner of the domain name, and the registrar (where it is registered).

Has Domain Name Theft Occurred?

Domain names must be renewed each year. However, registrants can choose to renew domain names for several years in advance. If the current registrant fails to renew the domain name by the due date indicated in the WHOIS record, it is not considered domain name theft.

Domain names that are not renewed by their owners become available for renewal on an as-is basis. Domain registrars may choose to sell domain names not renewed at an auction. Some domain registrars choose to let domain names expire or “drop”, which means that domain names can be again available for registration.

The domain name renewal policies vary from one registrar to the next. Domain names can be set up to automatically renew by registrants. However, the domain name will be renewed annually and a credit card fee is required. Domain name registrars will try to renew domain names before the expiration date. The domain name will be cancelled if the registrar is unable or unwilling to renew it. After that, the domain name will be placed on “On Hold”, or “Pending Delete” and will eventually expire. This does not mean that the domain name has been stolen.

DNAcess rescues domain names: life preserver

Recovering Your Domain Name

First, DNAccess recommends reading the various scenarios we have described above in order to determine whether or not the domain name has truly been stolen.

If indeed your domain has been stolen, follow these steps:

  1. Check to see if you still have access to the account at the domain name registrar. If you have no access, try the “forgot password” option at the registrar.
  2. Check the WHOIS record of the domain name and see if the domain name is still registered at the registrar where you registered it. If so, then contact them via their customer support.
  3. If the domain name has been transferred to another registrar, contact your registrar and talk to them about what happened carefully noting the details of the call.
  4. File a report of the theft with your local authorities so the theft is documented in case the recovery process will require litigation in order to recover it.
  5. If it appears that the domain name has, in fact, been stolen, then contact us at DNAccess after you have filed the report with your local authorities. DNAccess can help you recover the domain name. Contact us immediately if you believe your domain name is stolen.

We cannot stress enough that time is of the essence: when a domain name is stolen, it needs to be reported and acted upon within hours (and not within days). The sooner that you report the theft, the sooner that you contact DNAccess about the domain name theft, the easier it is to recover. Domain name thieves can be relentless in their attempts to hide their involvement. A domain name can be stolen, transferred to another registrar, sold to another buyer, then sold again and again within a matter of days.

Contact Us If Your Domain Name Has Been Stolen or Is Missing

If your domain name is missing from your domain name registrar’s account, or you no longer have access to the domain name, contact us.